It is natural for anyone to be confused between Android Go, Android One, and Stock Android. This may be because Android is the term we commonly use for our mobile OS. Well, all these are nothing but various flavors of Google’s Android, but they do have much in common.
The key differences between these Android flavors are subject to the way smartphone makers use this Open Source Software, the number of pre-installed apps, and the way security updates are released to the end users.
Let us first talk about the normal Android experience.
Android is an Open Source Project by Google and the source code is available on the Internet free-of-cost. Anybody can take this code and build around it to use on a compatible device. This is more like how it works for OEMs like Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, LG, etc. However, Apps like YouTube, Google Play Music, Google Maps and the likes, are excluded from Android Open Source Project.
OEMs customize the Android OS by adding their own skins, icons, or anything they see as improvements to their devices, viz. TouchWiz by Samsung (now Samsung Experience), EMUI from Huawei, and Sense from HTC. Initially, none of these were better than the Normal Android Experience, but they were improved over the years.
Despite these custom-made Android variations, we have three ‘more pure’ versions of Android.
Stock Android comes directly from Google and was what people used to get on the now-deprecated Nexus series. However, there were multiple differences between the last Nexus and the very first Pixel.
Stock Android is what Google ships on its own Pixel series of smartphone. Besides, if there is any security update released by the tech giant, it directly comes to these phones without any delay.
Stock Android is bloatware-free, gets frequent updates, and has nothing extra that can slow down the devices running on it. Now, you can understand the reason why the demand for Stock Android is increasing in the market.
Launched for the Indian market in 2014, Android One was the means to put life into low-end smartphones. However, today, Android One has surpassed its original purpose of launch. For example, Moto X4 runs on Android One.
Google delivers software development services to smartphone manufacturers that opt for this smartphone OS. The tech giant also commits to offer updates and security patches for a fixed period of time.
Android One brings with it a publicity that it is likely a paid service. Well, it does make sense if Google charges a fee from OEMs for offering updates and security patches to their customers.
The Android Go flavor replaces the original Android One program and is specifically launched to put life into low-end smartphones. Since it is a trimmed-down version of Android, it does not have many pre-installed apps. Also, it includes the lite version of some key Google apps, viz. YouTube Go, Gmail Go, Maps Go, etc., which are specifically aimed at running smoothly on a smartphone with low hardware configuration.
However, the key difference between Android One and Android Go is that the latter does not come from Google directly. It is primarily released by OEMs like Nokia. This also means that Nokia will mandatorily release updates for its devices whenever Google will push updates to these apps. On the other hand, Stock Android and Android One users will receive those updates without any delay.
In a Nutshell!
Stock Android comes pre-installed on smartphones by Google like the Pixel series. The company provides the updates and security patches periodically. Android One also comes from Google but not with its own smartphones but those of OEMs. Google provides updates and security patches for a fixed period of time. Android Go replaces Android One on low-end smartphones to provide a more optimized user-experience. It is released by OEMs, and they are to provide updates and security patches in the future.